"One of the downsides of being an OG, or of being [an older artist], is that you have to make yourself relevant again,” LastO says, playing idly with his water bottle while chatting about the release of his debut album Where’s Vivian? which hits iTunes this week.
Debuting in 2008 under the stage name Last Offence, the St. Louis, Mo., native arrived at a different time than today’s gay rappers of note like Le1f, Cakes da Killa and Mykki Blanco. “When I came out, you were birthed on MySpace," the rapper says. "Now there’s a requirement of visuals... Way more visuals, way more YouTube; that’s where you’re birthed now.”
At the time, the underground gay rap community was only looking out for some of the more masculine artists, of which LastO happened to be a part. That preference, coupled with outstanding lyrical abilities (as evidenced on his two projects “Run a Lap” and “Not for Non-Profit”) made him somewhat of a wunderkind. His last EP dropped in March 2009, and then it was the start of a four-year hiatus that saw two scrapped albums, Red Label and Charm, as well as a score of features and one-off tracks. “[They’re] in a secret vault and are never going to be released,” LastO says of his aborted albums. “Elements of it might pop out but not the whole project.”
LastO began working on Red Label in February 2010 with his producer, Ron Hunt, a year after he relocated to New York City. But after Hunt’s death, the artist decided to start over. “Actually it’s kinda strange: Some of the stuff that we were working on was on hard drives and I couldn’t get it,” he says. Armed with a new engineer and a renewed vigor, the rapper hit the studio to work on Charm. But upon some surprising reviews from friends in the industry, he decided to table the project right after he finished it.
In their place though comes a new 13-track album entitled Where’s Vivian? -- the artist’s first release under his LastO moniker, a self-exploration where LastO tries to figure out who he is as an artist. “It’s like, 'Who does he think he is taking these pictures with his vest open and his chest hanging out?'" he says, looking back on past performances. "Even if ya’ll didn’t look at it like that, that’s how I looked at it.”
The result is a debut album that puts lyricism squarely at the forefront, with a dose of politics and love. Bangers like “Travel Planz,” featuring retired out rapper Twizza, who co-executive produced the album, are sure to do more than appease his new and old fans alike. And as for moving forward, LastO is adamant: “You’ll never get another four year hiatus out of me,” he says.
Listen to two tracks off of Last O’s debut album below, and get the full Where’s Vivian? album now on iTunes.